Tag Archives: maths

When Google Doodles Scientists

13 Jan

Ever since 1998, Google has been brightening up its homepage with “Google doodles”, playfully customised logos which celebrate a current event or the birthday of a famous person. The first ever doodle was created when the Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, attended the Burning Man festival and wanted to let Google users know that they were “out of office”.

Since then, the Google doodle has become a bit of a pop culture phenomenon. There have now been over 1,000 doodles, celebrating events ranging from the anniversary of the ice cream sundae to Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday (this one needs to be seen!).

A couple days ago, being the geek that I am, I got quite excited by a science-themed doodle – a strati-tastic version of the Google logo in celebration of Nicolas Steno, an important figure in modern geology.

So, noticing that Google keeps an archive of all of its doodles, I thought I’d find out which other scientists had been honoured by Google’s creative bods. Turns out there’s quite a lot… Continue reading


The Art of Science 2011

19 Nov

Every year, Princeton University in the U.S. organises an exhibition of science-themed art, where all of the artwork comes from research carried out by the university’s scientists. This year’s gallery was revealed last week…here are some of my favourites:

The view from here, by Colin Twomey and the Couzin Lab

I had no idea what this was before I read the description. Those colourful rods are fish swimming in a tank – 150 of them in total – and the white rays show the approximate field of view for each fish. This is a single frame from a video, filmed by biologists studying the behaviour of fish shoals.

Nitrogen fixation, by Sarah Batterman

This otherworldly landscape was photographed in Iceland. Nootka lupins like these were first planted more than 50 years ago to help rebuild Iceland’s highly eroded soils. However, this practice has become controversial because the plants often spread too quickly, affecting the native flora and reducing Iceland’s biodiversity (find out more here).

Mathematical Mountains, by Steve Brunton

I love this image – it makes me think of picture book illustrations of snow-capped mountains. In reality, it’s an excerpt from a bifurcation diagram of population dynamics, showing how order can emerge out of chaos. I’ve not got my head around the science behind this one yet, but it’s certainly nice to look at.

To see the full gallery, including the overall winners, click here!

Making Shapes: math-art by Gemma Anderson

5 Nov

The worlds of maths and art rarely collide, but when they do, the results can be intriguing. The artist and printmaker Gemma Anderson has recently begun one such collaboration with mathematicians at London’s Imperial College who are working on a ‘periodic table of shapes’.

Gemma Anderson’s model of a rhombic dodecahedron

Just as with the famous periodic table in chemistry, the mathematicians are searching for the building blocks, or ‘elements’, of the shape world. These are shapes that cannot be divided any further, named ‘Fano varieties’ after the Italian mathematician Gino Fano. They’re the prime numbers of geometry – the purest of shapes. Continue reading

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